Four teachers from Canutillo and San Elizario were selected to attend prestigious professional development institutes in Austin and Houston sponsored by Humanities Texas in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin and Rice University this summer.
Anna Alvarez, who teaches English language arts at San Elizario High School, participated in “Teaching Literature,” which took place from June 10–13 on the UT Austin campus.
The institute provided strategies and resources for helping students to become better readers of fiction, poetry, drama and expository prose, while also addressing the critical reading and media literacy skills necessary for success at the post-secondary level.
The program also featured presentations on incorporating art and film in language arts courses and included an excursion to the Harry Ransom Center, where teachers learned about highlights from the Center’s literary holdings.
The program faculty included distinguished scholars from universities across the nation. During an evening event at the Byrne-Reed House, poet Naomi Shihab Nye read from and discussed her newest collection of poems, “The Tiny Journalist,” with participants.
Northwest Early College High School English teachers Heidi McConnell, Alisia Muir and James O’Keeffe participated in “Teaching Shakespeare,” which took place from June 17–20 on the Rice campus.
The institute covered topics including Shakespeare’s world, works and the sources he drew upon in his writing; approaches to teaching the major tragedies, comedies and sonnets; and intersections between Shakespeare and Latinx drama. The institute also included presentations on developing engaging writing assignments that emerge from the study of Shakespeare’s works.
Peggy O’Brien, director of education at the Folger Shakespeare Library, trained participants in performance-based teaching strategies. O’Brien worked with actors from the Houston Shakespeare Festival to demonstrate the interpretive possibilities of Shakespeare through performance.
Dennis Huston, Gladys Louise Fox Professor Emeritus of English at Rice University, delivered the institute’s keynote lecture. The program faculty included distinguished scholars from universities and educational institutions across the nation.
“Working in El Paso can feel isolating at times,” commented Muir. “This institute was an incredible opportunity to work with teachers from all over the state with varied school demographics.”
“Humanities Texas was pleased to cosponsor the Austin and Houston institutes,” said Director of Grants and Education Eric Lupfer. “The programs offered teachers the opportunity to study with leading scholars and interact with colleagues from across the state. Participants left the institutes energized and equipped with training that will enhance student learning.”
“Teaching Literature” and “Teaching Shakespeare” were made possible with support from the State of Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to advance education through programs that improve the quality of classroom teaching, support libraries and museums and create opportunities for lifelong learning for all Texans.